Narrowing down Toulouse Lautrec to the “culture of Montmartre” was a mistake in art history… Considered for a long time as a minor artist, the painter was mostly remembered as a heavy duty reveler (even posthumously), better known for his night time activities and his admiration of dancing girls rather than for his work as an artist.
Under the helm of Danièle Devynck and Stéphane Guégan, curators of the exhibition, Le Grand Palais and the RMN erase this bad reputation and rehabilitate the status truly deserved by the artist with “Resolutely modern”, the blockbuster retrospective which explores the uniqueness of a total artist.
The artistic destiny of an aristocratic dandy
Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa is a true aristocrat, stemming for the old French nobility of the Languedoc. Pampered by his family, he initiates himself to the art world and begins to dream of a Bohemian life. Big drawback, in 1874, a genetic sickness leaves him handicapped and seals his destiny.
A precursor of futurism, he arrives in Paris in 1881, studies art with Cormon and is part of the intellectual intelligentsia and all the arty circles of the period. He befriends Van Gogh. Exit the academic style, atop his 1m52, Toulouse-Lautrec imposes his fanciful and inventive pictorial style, along with a realism without concessions…
A painter, in the intimacy of women
Influenced by his friend Degas, he frenetically sketches “All of Paris" without taboos: prostitutes, bordellos, the era’s celebrities (La Goulue), horses, fairytale circuses and other dandies…His success is as fugacious as his career… We are in admiration in front of his portraits showcasing the nervous la caustic, Yvette Guilbert or the colourful clown Cha-U-Kao, without forgetting Paul Viaud, his friend, featuring intense overtones, announcing new aesthetics.
But at the age of 37 years old, his destiny is sealed: excessive alcohol and syphilis were his demise… Mischievous, this little man cracked a last joke on his deathbed saying: “Father, I knew you would not miss the hallali (The death of the stag)”. This says it all!
Discover the best exhibitions this Fall
Until the 27th of January 2020. Open Monday, Thursday and Sunday from 10am to 8pm.
Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10am to 10pm. Closed on Tuesday.
Also check out the new must-see parisian exhibitions.